Steve Bunce on Boxing: Inside knowledge puts Ingle in Brook's corner

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The Independent Online

"My name is Brendan Ingle. I train, manage and promote professional boxers. The black lads, the white lads. I don't care where they come from."

Each time Brendan Ingle takes a group of his fighters to either a working man's club or prison somewhere in Yorkshire or Derbyshire, he starts the night of unique sparring with the same speech. He stands in the ring and looks out at the drinkers or the inmates, knowing that every single one of the boxers lined up behind him could be in front of him.

"I have taken some of the boxers back inside, and that's odd!" said Ingle. His unbeaten heavyweight Richard Towers, who started to box when he was released from prison, was the most recent fighter to visit his former home. There are no definite statistics on how many Ingle has kept out of prison during his 40 years of working, talking to and shaping fighters at his gym on a hill outside Sheffield.

Tonight Ingle will be with Kell Brook, a veteran of numerous prison sessions, in the dressing room before Brook, a boy he moulded from stray waif, walks to the ring in front of a capacity crowd of 12,000 at the old Sheffield Arena. Brook fights Matthew Hatton for the bragging rights to the unofficial title of best welterweight in Britain.

The Brook and Hatton fight is the biggest of the weekend but not the most important involving a British boxer. In New York tonight, Matt Macklin, from Birmingham, fights Sergio Martinez for the world middleweight title. Martinez recently gave his belt back to the sanctioning body in a move that most other champions are watching closely.